Recently while listening to Happy Jacks (S8E4 to be precise) the term “gamer” was brought up. It stirred some thoughts I’ve been feeling about that particular word for a few years now. I think it’s time for it to go.
When you say you’re a gamer in this day and age, most people think you play video games. Thanks to the rise of online multiplayer games, they also think you’re a racist homophobe with nothing better to do with your time. I abhor the term gamer because of this and I never use it in reference to myself. You want to know what it’s like to deal with a “gamer”? Go play a competitive multiplayer game online. When I play online with people I don’t know, I no longer wear my headphones because I got tired of being called “faggot” and “cocksucker” if I happened to win the match. On Xbox Live, people even take the time to type up a message and send it over. What rational person does that? Over a game?
As it relates to RPGs, if you say you’re a gamer, people think Magic or D&D. I get tired of saying gamer as it relates to the RPG hobby so I tell people I play “tabletop games, like Dungeons and Dragons, but less nerdy.” I always throw that last part in there, as if pretending to be a 1920s Private Investigator while playing Call of Cthulhu is somehow less nerdy than pretending to be a Monk in Forgotten Realms. It’s not, and I know it’s not, but even using gamer as it relates to RPGs has a negative connotation outside of the hobby. And, frankly, I don’t really consider it nerdy. I consider it gaming. But people outside of our hobby don’t see it that way.
And why is that? Hysteria and less than ethical media for the most part is my guess. The big, but false Satanic scare back in the day and all the misinformation that went along with it that got reported as fact. And as another HJ host, Tyler, has said (and I’m paraphrasing here) “A hobby is judged by the worst examples it has to offer”. I believe that to be true. People usually believe the worst because that is normally all they are presented and encouraged to make a judgement on. Which is bullshit. As if a hobby that harms absolutely no one and gives joy to millions of people is something to be derided and ashamed of.
I don’t know what the new term should be, but I am ready to retire the word gamer. It carries too much negativity with it and it is saddled unfairly by the actions of a few. We’re all storytellers, it’s all interactive fiction, but I don’t know what one good word sums that up.
Filed under: Misc